June 14, 2021

Olunga earns 23rd J1 League goal as Kashiwa Reysol fall to Gamba Osaka

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The Kenyan international has scored in the last two matches which his side have lost narrowly on both occasions

Kenya international Michael Olunga scored his 23rd goal of the J1 League current season in Kashiwa Reysol’s 2-1 loss to Gamba Osaka on Saturday.

An own goal from Kim Seung-Gyu and then Ademilson Junior’s goal was enough for the hosts to grab the win while a goal by Olunga denied them a clean sheet.

After the first half ended in a 0-0 draw, Seung-Gyu’s unfortunate own goal in the 52nd minute broke the deadlock before second half entrant Junior scored the winning goal for Gamba Osaka in the 89th minute.

Olunga, the clear leader in the Golden Boot race, scored the only goal for Kashiwa Reysol in the 80th minute but a late concession denied them at least a point away from home.

He scored his 22nd goal of the season against Shonan Bellmare when they were defeated 3-2 on October 18.

Olunga has been in impressive goalscoring form in the J1 League after he found the back of the net with a brace to help Kashiwa Reysol down Vissel Kobe 4-3 on October 10.

It was the second straight time that the former Tusker and Thika United striker scored a league brace as he had achieved the same feat against Yokohama FC on October 1.

His form is expected to be key in Kenya’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) back-to-back qualification quest.

Harambee Stars head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee said he is hopeful the former Thika United and Gor Mahia striker could be available for the Comoros November double-header.

He did not travel for the Zambia friendly which Kenya hosted and defeated Chipolopolo 1-0 at Nyayo Stadium on October 9.

“I am happy our top striker Michael [Olunga] called to congratulate me on my appointment. He’s promised to turn up for us against Comoros. It is an exciting moment for most of the players,” Mulee told Goal recently.

“It is a tricky situation now dealing with foreign-based players, I say tricky because some clubs will not want [or will not be comfortable] to release their players to honour national team duty owing to the Covid-19 restrictions.”

The Saturday win saw Gamba Osaka go third with 48 points while Olunga’s side is eighth with 37 points after 24 games.